The olfactory system, particularly the olfactory epithelium, presents a unique opportunity to study the regenerative capabilities of the brain, because of its ability to recover after damage. In this study, we ablated olfactory sensory neurons with methimazole and followed the anatomical and functional recovery of circuits expressing genetic markers for I7 and M72 receptors (M72-IRES-tau-LacZ and I7-IRES-tau-GFP). Our results show that 45 days after methimazole-induced lesion, axonal projections to the bulb of M72 and I7 populations are largely reestablished. Furthermore, regenerated glomeruli are re-formed within the same areas as those of control, unexposed mice. This anatomical regeneration correlates with functional recovery of a previously learned odorant-discrimination task, dependent on the cognate ligands for M72 and I7. Following regeneration, mice also recover innate responsiveness to TMT and urine. Our findings show that regeneration of neuronal circuits in the olfactory system can be achieved with remarkable precision and underscore the importance of glomerular organization to evoke memory traces stored in the brain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)